At the Fifth Annual General Meeting of the Friends of Wool Library, Chair Sue Kerr presented the following report for 2016-7
The Friends of Wool Library (FOWL) has continued the management and running of Wool Community Library and successfully completed the fourth year of operation on 15 January 2017. The occasion was marked by a volunteer event here in the McCullagh Suite, arranged by the Duty Co-ordinators.
The Library has continued to open 3 sessions per week on Tuesday afternoons, Thursday andSaturday mornings. There have normally been three trained volunteers on duty per session supported by one of the Duty Co-ordinators. The Duty Co-ordinators are currently Pauline Diment, Annette Dyke, Sue Kerr and Jane Pearson, who form the operational management team. This group meets twice a month, and reports back to the Trustees at their meetings.
The Committee/Trustees elected at the fifth AGM in 2016, are as follows:
Chairman - Sue Kerr
Vice- Chairman - this position was left vacant at the last AGM and filled on an Acting basis by David Smith, who was elected as a member
Secretary - Jane Pearson
Treasurer - Annette Dyke
Committee Members - Alasdair Berrie, Eileen Osgood, Peter Green and Pauline Diment
We also have the help and support of our Membership Secretary, Judith Beeby. Judith does such a lot for us – keeping Friends informed and making sure our membership database is up to date. I’d like to thank her for everything she’s done for us over the last year.
The Trustees meet every 2 months, with a special meeting in January to discuss strategy for the year ahead. I’ll lay out our plans for 2017 later in the meeting.
Now, before I go any further, I need to record our dismay on hearing that our Volunteer Co-ordinator, Christine Reber, had, at the end of last summer, decided to stand down. Christine’s legacy is legendary: not just in the wonderful group of volunteers who run the library here in Wool, but also across the County and Libraries West, our new library authority. She was instrumental in setting up all the good practice that we now employ, and helping to design the training manual used by all the Community Libraries in Dorset. She did so much that it is impossible to thank her enough, so I will simply say “Great job, Christine and good luck in new ventures!”
As you might imagine, it has been difficult to fill Christine’s shoes, so at the moment, the 4 Duty Co-ordinators have split her responsibilities between them, and I’d like to thank Pauline, Annette and Jane for their help and support in keeping the library running smoothly.
Membership and Income
We are indebted to everyone who becomes a Friend, and this year our membership so far is 64 of which 13 are new members. Trustees took a decision to make membership fees £5 each this year, thus removing the previous benefit for couples of £8, as many people indicated that they would be happy to pay the slight increase. Income from subscriptions is vital to us so thank you to all our Friends. We’ve decided to run a membership drive in 2017 so please invite anyone you know to join us.
We said last year that we would focus on four aims:
1. Development of Service
We’ve set out to develop the library in several ways this year – by supporting particular groups with the Home Library Service and the Summer Reading Challenge, and by getting involved in running digital sessions for both young and not so young.
Following the closure of the mobile service, we anticipated that there might be a greater need for home deliveries, and our HLS team rose to the challenge, securing a Dorset Volunteer Group of the Year Award. Congratulations to them - thank you for all your hard work, Eileen and team.
To support the Summer Reading Challenge we opened the library on Wednesday mornings again from the end of July to the beginning of September, and although the number of children registering for the Challenge was down, this was reflected across the County. Nevertheless, 80 children signed up and about 80% completed the challenge, so thank you to everyone who did extra shifts, and encouraged the children to talk about their books. Thank you too, to the Children’s team, for running a series of very successful school visits. These are invaluable in introducing children to the library and reading, and they often result in children joining the library.
Supporting the digital initiative was a new experience for us, but we recently held a digital morning, with mini robots for the younger participants and a trained Dorset Digital Champion on hand to answer questions on anything from Skype to security online. The robots were on loan from Dorset Library Service and proved very popular, as did the piano run on Play-doh. We hope to have regular digital drop in sessions soon.
Regarding the library premises, we have had some issues with the heating of the library this winter, and we are aiming to address those with the Parish Council as soon as we can. We’ve also made some improvements to the layout of the library to improve the lighting for patrons choosing Large Print books.
However, the biggest item on our development wish list this year has been charitable status. Our application is ready and once the new constitution is agreed we will be a Charitable Incorporated Organisation. You’ll hear more about this later in the meeting.
2. Recruitment and Retention of Volunteers and Refresher Training
There was a major upheaval for volunteers during 2016 with the introduction of a new operating system for Dorset Libraries, as they joined the LibrariesWest consortium. Every volunteer had to have extra training sessions, and although we had a great deal of support from the Dorset Library staff, and our Community Library Liaison Officer, it was a challenging time for volunteers running Community Libraries throughout Dorset. Christine Reber headed up our training plans, but on her departure, Pauline Diment took on the role of making sure everyone knew the ropes, running extra sessions where necessary. Thank you Pauline for an outstanding job.
We held a Summer Party for volunteers and their partners last year, which was much enjoyed by all, and was a chance for the Trustees to show how much they value the hard work of everyone who helps to run the library. Thanks to Annette for the loan of her lovely home in which to enjoy cucumber sandwiches and strawberries and cream.
The Trustees have reviewed the Safeguarding and Health and Safety Policies for volunteers, and where necessary, additional training or advice has been given. Peter Green has been advising us on Health and Safety and risk assessments and we are extremely grateful to him for all his work in this area.
Our annual Quiz and our stall at the Carnival helped to swell our coffers in 2016, but it is membership fees and income from business card advertising that really support our finances. We were sorry to lose Sharon Palmer who had previously led the initiative on business cards but we are hopeful to have found a new volunteer to help us in this area. I’d like to thank Sharon for all her hard work in setting up the business cards scheme and running it so successfully.
Wool Community Library continued to secure coverage on air and in print. There were pieces on BBC South, Radio Solent, Your Dorset and in the Echo. It’s often noted by our colleagues in other Community Libraries how often Wool is mentioned or interviewed, and we have David Smith to thank for penning the press releases that get noticed. Thank you, David. We are aware that the regular newsletter is no longer regular, and we’re looking into ways of rectifying that.
Meetings with Dorset Libraries and other Community Libraries.
David Smith and I have met with Dorset Library Service and other Community Libraries as part of the ongoing conversation about the overall library service as it relates to Community run projects. We’ve noticed that we are increasingly being used as information hubs for the County, holding copies of consultations and surveys, and being included in projects on developing the service. We regard this as highly important in keeping Community Libraries in the forefront of thinking at County level, although we are mindful of the need to remind Dorset Library Service that we are all volunteers, and not every library can support every initiative. However, it is close contact with County that gives us the opportunity to borrow a set of mini robots at no charge, so we continue to work as closely with our County colleagues as we can. David is still convening meetings for all the Community Libraries and I am still a member of AdLib, the Association of Friends of Dorset Libraries.
Meetings with the Parish Clerk
We have a good relationship with the Parish Council via the Parish Clerk, and we are working together to improve the library in whatever way we can. When we look ahead to the future of the library, we are extremely grateful for the backing of our Parish Council in our plans.
I’d like to thank all my fellow Trustees for their support in the last year. It’s been a challenging year for us all, and I’ve been grateful for the help I’ve been given. I’d like to say a special thank you to our Secretary, Jane Pearson, because she does so much, and most of it unsung. I certainly couldn’t do this job without her. Thanks for everything, Jane.
But I’m going to finish my report with a post from the Facebook page of the Wool Parish Clerk because it sums up why what we are doing is so important:
"In the Parish Office during the day on a Wednesday for a change, and can hear the Bovington school children reading and interacting. The library volunteers are amazing, not just a place to exchange books, but providing interactive sessions for local children - all volunteers and all providing a wonderful community service"
Thank you to all our Friends and volunteers